A renewed attack on privacy: on Aadhaar Bill -Suhrith Parthasarathy

-The Hindu

The Aadhaar Bill, allowing private bodies to use Aadhaar as a means to authenticate identity, poses huge dangers

On Friday, the Lok Sabha, without any attendant discussion, passed the Aadhaar and Other Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018. On any reasonable reading it ought to be plainly apparent that the Bill flagrantly flouts both the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment which gave the Aadhaar programme a conditional imprimatur. It is therefore entirely likely that the government is banking on a sense of political fatigue having set in over the project, and perhaps it believes it has made the programme so ubiquitous that a few additional legislative tweaks are unlikely to shock and jolt the dissenters. But the present move is so brazen that we will be failing in our collective duties were we to allow the amendments to be carried out without any debate. For, if enacted, the law will once again allow private corporations, including banks and telecom operators, to use Aadhaar as a means to authenticate identity.

Astonishingly, this change has been proposed despite the government’s abject failure to enact comprehensive legislation protecting our data and our privacy. Therefore, unless the Rajya Sabha places a constraint on the government’s impudence, the consequences will prove devastating.

Between September and now

There is no doubt the Supreme Court’s judgment, delivered last September, enjoined Parliament to make certain specific legislative changes. To that end, some of the court’s concerns are addressed by the Bill, such as the inclusion of a clause intended at ensuring that children are not denied benefits on account of a failure to possess Aadhaar. But the essential object of the law is to countermine those portions of the judgment that the regime deems inconvenient. So inconvenient that the Bill was introduced, as the lawyer Vrinda Bhandari has argued in The Wire, by altogether overlooking the state’s own “pre-legislative consultative policy”.

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The Hindu, 9 January, 2019, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-renewed-attack-on-privacy/article25943864.ece?homepage=true

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